12.5 C
New York
Friday, October 9, 2020
Home Reviews Honor Watch GS Pro review: Built to last but can’t go the...

Honor Watch GS Pro review: Built to last but can’t go the distance

The Honor Watch GS Pro is basically a Huawei Watch GT 2 with a much bigger battery. Given the connection between the two brands, this isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s far from a “new” smartwatch. The main difference is that the GS Pro has a chunky exterior (which I love) and a massive battery (which I wish deserved my love). This is the Honor Watch GS Pro review.

About this Honor Watch GS Pro review: I’ve been wearing the GS Pro for a week now, paired to version of the Huawei Health app over a Bluetooth connection. Throughout the Honor Watch GS Pro review period, it was running software version

Honor Watch GS Pro review: Design

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

As a fan of chunky watches, I like the GS Pro design. The larger battery means it’s a bit of a chonky boi, even on my wrist, but not ridiculously so. If you like larger watches this will suit you fine, as it does me. If you’ve been a bit wary of the bulk of most smartwatches in the past, be warned: the Honor Watch GS Pro is not for the faint of heart.

I like chunky watches, but be warned: the Honor Watch GS Pro is not for the faint of heart.

The design reminds me of a Casio ProTrek watch I’ve owned and loved for years. Two big flat buttons on the right-hand side, angular lugs, a diver’s watch bezel: it’s all on point. The stainless steel bezel doesn’t rotate, but the “outdoor watch” styling is pretty spot on.

Honor Watch GS Pro side profile and strap

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The Honor Watch GS Pro features a Huawei TruSeen 3.5 setup on the back, meaning a quad-sensor layout with LEDs and receivers for reading heart-rate measurements and SpO2. You’ll also find two pogo pins for charging and the speaker, which thankfully isn’t muffled by your wrist despite its location on the back of the watch. There’s no NFC.

The included fluoro rubber strap on the Charcoal Black unit I have has a textured feel to it. It’s quite stiff at the lugs where it connects to the puck with a spring-loaded 22mm pin, but because the watch chassis is so large you don’t notice the stiffness as it wraps around your wrist.

The Marl White version comes with the same strap in a beige color but the Camo Blue option has a braided nylon strap instead. It’s not my favorite smartwatch strap but the textured feel does match the matte finish of the main plastic part of the watch body well.

25-day battery life?

Honor Watch GS Pro heart rate sensors and pogo pins

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The main difference between the Honor Watch GS Pro and the Huawei Watch GT 2 is battery life (if you’re wondering why I’m not comparing it to the Honor Magic Watch 2 instead it’s because that watch doesn’t have GPS while the GT 2 does and they are mostly identical otherwise).

Where the Watch GT 2 series offers 14 days of battery life via a 455mAh cell, the added battery bulk of the GS Pro jacks that up to an impressive 25 days. Apparently. Maybe. Not yet.

With what I would consider to be normal usage, I’m on track for 15 days of battery life, not 25.

The Honor Watch GS Pro has a 790mAh battery, charged by a familiar pogo pin puck in around two hours. In the six full days since my last charge, the GS Pro battery is right at 60%. I honestly don’t think it’s realistic to expect a full 25 days out of one charge – at least not with this current software version – but it’ll definitely be between two and three weeks.

Honor states the GS Pro can last for 100 hours with GPS enabled in power-saving mode. This is an option for just three activities: hiking, mountain hiking, and trail running (tap the settings icon next to each activity to change the GPS mode). The GS Pro’s default mode for all activities is performance mode, which Honor says will get you 40 hours of more accurate GPS tracking.

How I used it

Honor Watch GS Pro watch face with step count

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

During the Honor Watch GS Pro review period, I wore it as my main watch with always-on watch faces disabled (as these generally halve the battery life). I had TruSleep, continuous heart-rate monitoring, and automatic stress tracking enabled.

Beyond normal usage checking the time and weather, answering or rejecting calls, and checking my heart rate or stress levels, I also tracked several activities. These included a 40-kilometer bike ride, some hiking on the weekend, a couple of hours of kayaking, a few auto-detected walks throughout the week, and some strength training.

I also played music stored on the watch and on my phone but only for about an hour (half played through the GS Pro’s speakers and the other half over Bluetooth earbuds). Basically, nothing I would consider to be out of the ordinary, so I’m pretty skeptical about the 25-day claims being made. Right now, I’m on track for 15 days, not 25.

See Also: The best smartwatches right now

Honor Watch GS Pro change watch face

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

I think you’d need really lean usage with no outdoor activity to hit that particular milestone, which doesn’t seem ideal for a watch specifically targeted at outdoorsy types. This is a little disappointing for a watch with a 790mAh battery. Case in point: other Huawei watches with a 455mAh battery safely last me for two weeks with similar amounts of activity tracking.

With that said, I also noticed less-spectacular-than-expected battery life from the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro recently, so there could be a current software issue that can be patched to improve the battery situation in both devices. If things change for the better, I’ll update this review.

Lite OS and Huawei Health

Honor Watch GS Pro quick settings screen

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Lite OS is a very simplistic wearable OS. On the home watch face you can swipe up to see notifications and tap them to expand (but not to reply). Swiping down on the main screen reveals your quick settings. These include a toggle for do not disturb, screen-on toggle, find my phone, alarm shortcut, and settings menu shortcut. You’ll also find a Bluetooth connection icon, the date, and a battery indicator.

Lite OS is a very simplistic wearable OS. I like it, but it’s not for everyone.

Swiping horizontally through the Watch GS Pro’s main screens reveal screens dedicated to heart rate monitoring, stress level tracking, weather, music playback, and an activity dashboard. The dashboard shows three rings indicating step count, tracked workout minutes, and active hours for the day. You can rearrange Lite OS home screens or add extras by going to Settings > Display > Favorites (the only one you can add on the GS Pro is Sleep).

Huawei Health app dashboard Honor Watch GS Pro
Huawei Health app bike ride route map
Huawei Health app bike ride stats
Huawei Health app Honor Watch GS Pro settings

The top button on the right launches your app list when pressed on the main watch face. It takes you back to the main screen when pressed elsewhere in the Lite OS interface. To go back a step, just swipe inwards from the left-hand side of the screen. The bottom button can be set to any app shortcut you like but defaults to launching activity tracking.

The apps on the Watch GS Pro occasionally provide more information than their associated main screens. For example, Activity Records shows the dashboard mentioned above, but you can swipe up to see more detailed information including calories burned, distance covered, elevation changes, as well as daily totals for steps, workout minutes, and hours active for the week.

Huawei Health app heart rate monitoring
Huawei Health app stress level tracking
Huawei Health app sleep tracking
Huawei Health app step counter

Huawei Health provides an even deeper level of detail. You can dig right into your workout stats, sleeping habits, stress levels, and SpO2 measurements, or track your weight, heart rate, and calories burned by the hour, day, week, or month. It’s perhaps not as advanced as some other wearable apps but it’s still got more than enough data to cover the basics.

You can add a menstrual cycle calendar to Huawei Health’s dashboard by tapping the Edit button at the bottom of the main screen and enabling it.

Honor Watch GS Pro: Fitness tracking

Honor Watch GS Pro activity tracking screen

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Like all other Honor and Huawei watches running Lite OS, the limitations of the app ecosystem (i.e. precious little third-party app support) will be a problem for some, especially if you’re already tied up in a fitness app like Strava. You can, however, share data from Huawei Health to Google Fit or MyFitnessPal, depending on your region.

The activity tracking options on the Honor Watch GS Pro are very comprehensive.

App support notwithstanding, the activity tracking options on the Honor Watch GS Pro are very comprehensive. 100 modes cover everything from multiple running, walking, swimming, and cycling modes, to triathlon, strength, skiing, rowing, and elliptical. There are also 13 different running courses if you need a little extra motivation.

If your fitness activities are a little more niche, you’ve got all manner of extras including street dance, HIIT, yoga and pilates, boxing and taekwondo, tai chi, frisbee, laser tag, fishing, curling, parachuting, and…well, you get the point.

Honor Watch GS Pro workout mode running courses

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Huawei’s fitness tracking is generally quite good and the Honor Watch GS Pro produces very similar results. Heart-rate and stress measurements across devices are near identical (I’ve been wearing the GT 2 Pro at the same time as a control), as are sleep tracking records.

One discrepancy worth mentioning is step count. I noticed throughout this Honor Watch GS Pro review that it consistently tracked more steps throughout the day than the GT 2 Pro. I can’t be certain which device is reporting incorrectly, but during the GT 2 Pro review it reported the same count as the Huawei Watch Fit I was also wearing at the time. So either the GS Pro is over-reporting or both new Huawei watches are under-reporting.

Other features

Honor Watch GS Pro sleep tracking watch face

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Beyond heart rate tracking and fitness, the GS Pro offers sleep tracking, which is pretty good. Even if you don’t quite know what to do with the sleep insights provided, it’s interesting information to have available. Especially if you want to try and reverse engineer the conditions under which you get the best night’s rest.

The Honor Watch GS Pro also offers on-demand SpO2 monitoring. The results always seem to be at 97% saturation or above and then drop by a percent or two a moment after the reading comes in, so I can’t say how reliable they are. The lack of 24/7 monitoring for detecting sleep apnea is a bit of a bummer, especially with the extra battery capacity available to handle it. (Note: I asked Honor about this and they responded to say the “GS Pro has 24/7 SpO2 monitoring.” However, I see no way to enable it in the watch, app, or settings, even though I’m on the newest software versions. Perhaps it’s coming in an update.)

Honor Watch GS Pro Route Back wayfinding

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

There’s a barometer, altimeter, and compass on the GS Pro. These definitely come in handy when you’re in the great outdoors. The GS Pro delivers severe weather alerts and detailed weather forecasts. You can see hourly weather info for the current day and daily outlooks for the week ahead. You can also access tide times, moon phase info, and sunset/sunrise information.

Route Back is pretty neat and a great feature to have.

Route Back is an offline GPS feature that lets you ditch your phone and still find your way back if you get lost. It works on select outdoor activities like hiking or outdoor running and provides a simple route overview to navigate you back to your starting point. Just swipe twice from the right edge of the screen (past the music player) when tracking one of the supported activities and use the + and – symbols to zoom in and out. It’s pretty neat and a great feature to have.

The good stuff

Honor Watch GS Pro earphones in settings
As I mentioned at the outset, I’m all about this chunky aesthetic, so that’s a win for me. I’ve also been using Huawei Health for years so I quite like its layout and level of detail (I personally don’t want too much data from my watch, just a Goldilocks amount, but your mileage may vary). I appreciate Lite OS’ simplicity too. Nevertheless, I totally understand that it’s not for everyone.

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

I also like the audio experience on the Watch GS Pro. The speaker gets impressively loud and while it’s hardly Dolby Atmos it’s pretty darn good for a smartwatch. It allows you to play music stored on your watch or on your phone via Bluetooth 5.1 (you can also pair wireless earbuds directly to the GS Pro – one of my favorite features). The GS Pro can also receive calls as long as it’s paired to your phone.

If you have an Honor or Huawei phone you can even use the GS Pro as a remote shutter for taking photos. So just prop your phone up, get in front of it and use your watch to trigger the shutter, with a few seconds delay if you need it. This feature isn’t available on iPhones or non-Honor/Huawei Android phones. iOS users can’t take advantage of the stress monitoring feature either.

The not-so-great stuff

Honor Watch GS Pro track workout

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Beyond the underwhelming battery life and not-very-competitive price tag, my only other real gripes are a few hardware and software issues. Unfortunately, there were more than a few during the Honor GS Pro review period, which left me feeling it was still a bit too buggy for showtime. I can’t say everyone will experience the same problems as me, but here are a few I came across:

  • Workout auto-detection worked maybe a quarter of the time and often kicked in way too late (for example, 15 minutes into a 20-minute walk). I also swam a dozen laps in a pool at one point and the GS Pro failed to detect any activity. The GS Pro has 5ATM water resistance by the way.
  • Whenever I tracked a workout of any kind, the GS Pro always considered my heart rate to be in the extreme zone, despite appropriate zones being set in the app. This happened regardless of whether I was chest-busting on the bike at 175bpm or doing a mild strength workout at 120bpm. This then affected the analytics I got for each workout, skewing my results.
  • The GS Pro has the same laggy response all Honor and Huawei devices with the Kirin A1 chip seem to suffer. The lag between swiping or tapping and the watch registering it can occasionally be so bad you’d think you didn’t tap the screen. When you go to do it again, the GS Pro will finally react, causing you to mis-tap something on the next screen. Scrolling lag is also pretty bad, as is button-press response time.

Honor Watch GS Pro specs

Display 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen
Resolution 454×454, 326 ppi
CPU/Memory/storage Kirin A1, 4GB ROM (2GB available), 32MB RAM
Battery capacity 790 mAh (25 days est.)
Pogo pin charging
Sensors and components Accelerometer
Optical heart rate sensor
Ambient light sensor
Capacitive sensor
Bluetooth 5.1
Water resistance 5 ATM
Compatibility Android 5.0+ and iOS 9.0+
Dimensions and weight 48mm x 48mm x 13.6mm
45.5g (without 22mm strap)
Material Body: Reinforced polycarbonate
Bezel and buttons: Stainless steel
Strap: fluoro rubber/braided nylon (Camo Blue only)
Colors Charcoal Black, Marl White, Camo Blue

Value for money and competition

Honor Watch GS Pro compass

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

This is where things get a little sticky. The Honor Watch GS Pro retails for €249.90 in Europe in countries including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Spain and Italy have a discounted offer of €199.90 until the end of the month, shipping in the last week of September.

In the UK, the GS Pro costs ₤249.99 and it’s listed for that price on Honor’s website with your choice of a free pair of FreeBuds 3i, Honor Bluetooth Earphones, or an Honor Router 3, but the freebie only applies until September 30, 2020.

It’s hard to say the Honor Watch GS Pro offers particularly good value for money even within the Honor-Huawei ecosystem.

It’s hard to say the Honor Watch GS Pro offers particularly good value for money even within the Honor-Huawei ecosystem. There are several other Honor and Huawei watches with basically the same features and specs – if not the same battery capacity – for much less. If the 25-day battery life were there it might be worth the extra money, but it’s not, and it isn’t.

Honor Watch GS Pro decorative grille

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

You can currently pick up the 46mm Honor Magic Watch 2 for €159.90/₤139.99 or the Huawei Watch GT 2 for €179.99/£169.99. While both of these watches came out in late 2019, they are very similar. The only difference is that the Magic Watch 2 doesn’t have GPS. More recently, the Huawei Watch GT 2e offers a similar package (minus speaker and some other bits) for €145/£140.

As mentioned, the biggest difference here is the GS Pro’s 790mAh battery, which would be a bigger deal if it actually translated into better battery life. If the 25-day claim was backed up it might be worth the extra money, but it’s not, and it isn’t.

Read more: Huawei Watch GT 2e review

Outside Lite OS, you have plenty of other competitive options too. The 44mm Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is currently on sale for just €202.57/₤206.96 via Amazon. It offers the complete opposite design attitude to the GS Pro and nowhere near the battery life, but it is a more fully-featured smartwatch with support for contactless payments and more third-party app support. If GPS is essential for you, we also have a full list of the best GPS smartwatches available.

Honor Watch GS Pro review: The verdict

Honor Watch GS Pro moon phase watch face

Credit: Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The long and the short of it is that Honor may have slightly overpriced the GS Pro. This wouldn’t be so bad if it hadn’t also failed to deliver on its core promise of a 25-day battery life (or even two-week battery life if you’re actually in the outdoors a lot).

With a software update to fix the bugs and battery life issue, the GS Pro could still be a good deal. As it stands right now though, I think you’re probably better off with a Watch GT 2. Or the GT 2e if you don’t need the speaker. Or pick up a Galaxy Watch 2 if you need more features and can live without the chunk. You get my point.

With a software update to fix the bugs and battery life issue, the GS Pro could still be a good deal.

If things change for the better I will update this Honor Watch GS Pro review (I’ve sent all of these complaints to Honor to see if they’re doing anything about them). But for now, you can find equivalent watches elsewhere for a similar price that are also more reliable.

Honor Watch GS Pro
Dare to Explore

25 days battery life. Resistance certified in 14 categories according to MIL-STD-810G GJB. GPS Route Back Navigation.

  • €249.90 at Honor
  • ₤249.99 at Honor
  • ₤249.99 at Amazon


Fortnite season 4 week 7 challenge guide: Entering the vault in Doom’s Domain

Entering the vault in Doom's Domain in Fortnite is easier said than done. In this guide, we'll show you how to get inside for season 4 week 7's challenge.

Fortnite season 4 week 7 challenge guide: Drive to Misty Meadows in 4 Minutes

This week, Fortnite requires you to drive from Sweaty Sands to Misty Meadows in less than four minutes. Here's how to complete season 4 week 7's challenge.

Here’s which Apple Pencil works with which iPad

The Apple Pencil is fantastic if your iPad is a drawing or note-taking tool. But do you know which Apple Pencil you need for your iPad? Here's our guide.

Nest Audio review: The best smart speaker for most people

In the world of Assistant vs. Alexa, the Nest Audio makes Google's case nicely.It's important not to overthink what the